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Turkey Approves Sweden’s NATO Membership, Clearing Major Hurdle for Alliance Expansion

by Rahil M
0 comment

The approval of Sweden’s NATO membership by the Turkey parliament was secured with 287 votes in favour, 55 against, and four abstentions following more than four hours of debate.

In a momentous development, Turkey’s parliament has given the green light to Sweden’s NATO membership bid, ending a protracted 20-month delay and setting the stage for the Scandinavian nation to join the Western military alliance. The Turkish general assembly, where President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s ruling alliance holds a majority, voted 287-55 to ratify Sweden’s accession protocol on Tuesday. This represents a crucial step in the NATO expansion process initiated by Sweden and Finland in response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine nearly two years ago.

The approval of Sweden’s NATO membership was secured with 287 votes in favour, 55 against, and four abstentions following more than four hours of debate in the Turkish parliament. This leaves Hungary as the last country withholding approval in the accession process that commenced in 2022.

President Erdogan is expected to sign the bill into law in the coming days, bringing an end to an extended delay that has caused frustration among Ankara’s Western allies. Swedish Prime Minister Ulf Kristersson expressed optimism after the vote, stating that Stockholm was now “one step closer” to joining the NATO alliance.

The delay in Turkey’s approval primarily stemmed from Erdogan’s objections, initially centred around Sweden’s perceived acceptance of Kurdish groups that Ankara views as terrorists. In response to these concerns, Sweden took measures to tighten its antiterrorism legislation and address security issues related to Kurdish groups.

Turkey’s approval is a pivotal milestone for Sweden, positioning it to become a NATO member and contributing to the strengthening of the alliance’s defences in the Baltic Sea region facing Russia. Finland became the 31st member of NATO in April, enhancing the alliance’s border with Russia.

The historic reluctance of Turkey and Hungary to approve Sweden’s NATO accession has been a source of tension and a subject of diplomatic negotiations. Hungary’s Prime Minister Viktor Orban has invited Swedish Prime Minister Ulf Kristersson for discussions regarding Hungary’s potential inclusion in the military alliance.

The delay in Turkey’s approval had also been linked to demands made by Erdogan, particularly concerning the delivery of a batch of F-16 fighter jets for Turkey’s ageing air force. The United States has indicated that Turkey’s request for the fighter jets could gain congressional approval if Sweden’s NATO accession is finalized.

The approval of Sweden’s NATO membership by Turkey reflects a broader geopolitical realignment and the evolving dynamics of global alliances. Sweden’s decision to join NATO is a response to the changing security landscape in the wake of Russia’s actions in Ukraine, signifying a departure from its Cold War-era policy of military non-alignment.

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg welcomed Turkey’s decision and expressed confidence that Hungary would soon complete its national ratification. The entry of Sweden into NATO and the resolution of issues with Turkey contribute to the ongoing evolution of global strategic partnerships and alliances.

As the ratification process nears completion, the focus now shifts to potential arms deals and the broader implications for geopolitical relations in the region. The alignment of Sweden with NATO and the resolution of issues with Turkey contribute to the ongoing evolution of global strategic partnerships and alliances.

Sweden’s move to join NATO also holds significance in the context of a broader recalibration of alliances globally. The geopolitical chessboard is witnessing shifts as nations respond to emerging threats and opportunities. Sweden’s accession to NATO is likely to have ripple effects on the security architecture of the Baltic region and influence the calculus of neighbouring nations.

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